EDISON, Neb. (AP/KSNW) — The fire chief of a small Nebraska town died in a crash as he was rushing to help with a grassfire that was out of control Thursday afternoon and evening.
The Nebraska State Patrol said Elwood Fire Chief Darren Krull, 54, was killed in a crash during the fire response near Arapahoe, Nebraska. In addition, Phelps County Emergency Manager Justin Norris, 40, was critically injured in the crash.
The NSP said Norris was driving a Ford Expedition with Krull in the passenger seat when they were struck head-on by a truck hauling water to the fire. The driver of the water truck was not injured.
Investigators say the fire and smoke in the area had created zero-visibility conditions at the time of the crash.
“Our hearts are with all involved in this tragic crash, as well as those affected by the fire,” the NSP said on its Facebook page.
A wildfire in southern Nebraska fueled by dry conditions and strong winds forced the evacuation of the small village of Edison.
The Nebraska State Patrol called for a mandatory evacuation Thursday night of the Furnas County community of about 130 people about 187 miles southwest of Lincoln.
That order was later extended to rural residents around Edison and near the small town of Stamford.
The NSP said the fire response remains active Friday. It is asking people to continue to stay away from the area.
Critical fire weather conditions are forecast for Friday from the central Plains to the northwestern Gulf Coast, including parts of Texas and Louisiana. Much of Nebraska and Kansas could see wind gusts of up to 35 mph.